Dawei is a sleepy tropical town with a number of beautiful beaches in the vicinity. It has a long history of trade and features some interesting colonial architecture, with many old wooden, thatch-roofed bungalows and some brick and stucco mansions. Under British rule Dawei was known as Tavoy, and is still sometimes referred to by that name.
The Shwe Taung Zar Pagoda is the main religious site in Dawei, and is set in a charming little complex. The short walk from the centre of Dawei is also a pleasant one, following streets lined with colonial era-buildings. In the centre of town, the busy Si Pin Tharyar and Minagalar markets are worth a visit – they can be found opposite each other.
Another important religious site in the areaa is a huge reclining Buddha (74 m long, 21 m high), located 30 minutes drive from the centre of Dawei.
For a wider selection of photos, go to our Dawei Flickr photo album.
12 kilometres west of Dawei is Maungmagan beach (also spelt Maung Ma Kan), with its beautiful setting of hills rising straight up from the shoreline. There are a host of simple restaurants serving fresh seafood here and a 30 minute walk south will take you to a characterful fishing village with small boats nestled in its harbour – and some picture-perfect beer stations where you can relax and take in the views and sea breeze.
Maungmagan is quite unlike the more tourist-focused beaches you will find on the Bay of Bengal coast. Here, most people are local and bathing practices are somewhat different – you may find the people wading in their jeans and shirts, particularly on public holidays; foreigners in swimwear are not frowned upon, although they may get some friendly attention. One unfortunate side-effect of the lack of tourism development is that refuse is not always cleared; this is not unsafe, but can sometimes be a little unsightly.
To see more photos, go to our Maungmagan beach Flickr photo album.
There are two hotels at Maungmagan beach, the Maung Ma Kan Resort (located on the beach) and the more foreigner-friendly Coconut Guesthouse and Restaurant (located 500 metres behind the beach); tuk tuk to Maungmagan beach will take around 45 minutes from central Dawei and cost K10,000. Dawei itself has a wide choice of hotels.
Other beaches near Dawei
There are a number of stunning, untouched stretches of coastline to be discovered in the area. Whilst Maungmagan is popular and fun, it can get busy at certain times of year and the sand is not perfect. But near Dawei there are dozens of idyllic white sand beaches where you are unlikely to see another soul (other than the odd fisherman), particularly on the peninsula towards Dawei Point.
Beach highlights include:
You can get a taxi or tuk tuk, but the freedom of exploring by motorbike is the best way to get to these places; they can be hired in Dawei and at Maungmagan, costing around K10,000 per day.
If you head to the Dawei Peninsula, it is important to note that there is little infrastructure in the area – the roads down to the beaches are bad (and hard going in parts) and the habitations are simple fishing villages where you may be able to buy fried rice and a drink, but little else. Also, you will need to head back to Dawei or Maungmagan for accommodation, but most of the beaches can be reached on a day trip.
For a wider selection of photos, go to our beaches in the Dawei area Flickr photo album.
ATMs and practical info
A Visa- and Mastercard-ready KBZ bank ATM can be found at 14 Neikban (Niban) Street in Dawei, which runs parallel and to the north of the main east-west thoroughfare, Arzarni Road.
If you are going to explore the beaches around Dawei, it is a good idea to have a mobile phone with GPS and pre-load maps of the area so you can use them offline if you are struggling with directions.
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Tuesday 03 March